The marketing campaign for Game of Thrones is usually excellent, so it was surprising to see a rather sizeable misstep in releasing a first-look season 6 poster featuring a bloodied Jon Snow.
With the cast and crew going blue in the face saying the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch is dead, why did HBO play with their audience’s emotions in stirring up the tragic climactic sequence of season 5?
“I think we always have this conversation: how do we keep the fans, remind them the show is being produced and will be coming back?” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Variety.
“I think when we looked at the marketing at that point, the noise, the volume, the frequency with which the Jon Snow question was being asked, and the response to his death in Season 5 was so palpable. To ignore that seemed somehow silly.”
While that’s all well and good, if Jon Snow does remain dead, fans will feel as though they’ve been unfairly manipulated.
“I don’t think it was an attempt to play with the audience as much to remind an audience of where we took them this season and the stakes of the next season,” Lombardo countered.
“It generated enormous interest in a number of ways, but … we take this show way too seriously and our viewers way too seriously to ever toy with them. I think it was really our intention to remind them ‘You have to come back.’”
It’s also worth noting that the very first teaser trailer for season 6 was merely 30 seconds of Jon Snow standing on a boat (from the Hardhome episode in season 5) accompanied by a voiceover from Max von Sydow’s Three-Eyed Raven, which will also feel misdirected by the show’s marketing drive.
The first episode of season 6 will be simulcast in the US and UK on HBO and Sky Atlantic. Another trailer dropped this week, teasing more epic footage from the Tower of Joy. We love it. Watch it here.